I visited Ikea’s new Manhattan location — and it was like nothing else I’ve seen from the retailer

Employees told me that some eager customers have wandered into the studio, unaware that it's not yet open for business.

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Employees told me that some eager customers have wandered into the studio, unaware that it’s not yet open for business.
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Courtesy of Ikea

  • Ikea is opening a planning studio in Manhattan on Monday.
  • I visited the new location and took a tour around the studio.
  • The space showcased plenty of pieces and accessories tailor-made for New Yorkers short on both space and time.
Ikea has arrived in Manhattan. But the Big Apple isn’t getting a standard big blue box store.

Instead, the global furniture giant will launch a planning studio on Monday. The studio will employ around 25 people – a workforce that’s evenly split between new hires and Ikea veterans from other stores.

So far, the studio has already attracted some attention. Employees also told me that a few customers had already embarked on their own unauthorized tours, under the assumption that the space was open.

Read more: Inside the career of Home Depot CEO Craig Menear, who spent nearly 20 years working his way up the ladder

Ikea invited the press in to see the Manhattan location on Tuesday, and I was able to go on a tour of the space and snap some photos. I also spoke with Ikea US COO Leontyne Green Sykes, who said that this studio was created with New Yorkers in mind.

“This unit gives us the opportunity to answer some very specific needs,” Green Sykes told Business Insider.

Here’s a look inside Ikea’s new studio:


The Ikea studio is located on Third Avenue, between 60th and 59th Streets on the Upper East Side.

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Ikea’s Manhattan planning studio.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

The space used to be an Urban Outfitters, and it’s situated right across from a Bloomingdale’s. The exterior now boasts that unmistakable yellow-and-blue branding.

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Ikea’s Manhattan planning studio.
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Courtesy of Ikea

But this isn’t a regular big-box Ikea store. You’re not going to be seeing families hauling dressers and tables out the door …

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Courtesy of Ikea

… and it’s not a place where shoppers are going to roam for hours, stopping only to partake in a meal of Swedish meatballs. This is a planning studio

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Courtesy of Ikea

This is the first Ikea planning studio in the United States. Ikea has opened similar centers in major cities like London and Moscow, and the next one is slated to launch in Paris.

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Áine Cain / Business Insider

The lobby features plenty of tablets and two stations, representing kitchens and all other rooms. My first tour guide said that Ikea’s planning studio has been tailored to allow busy visitors to move through the studio at their own pace.

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Ikea’s Manhattan planning studio.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

You can schedule an appointment for a free one-on-one session online, opt for a walk-in, or just browse. But the quiet and relatively spacious lobby is your entry point into the rest of the studio.

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Ikea’s Manhattan planning studio.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

Upstairs, Ikea will showcase exclusive collections and pieces that aren’t yet available for sale online or in stores.

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Ikea’s Manhattan planning studio.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

Visitors can walk through several model homes, which are all based on the lodgings of real-life New Yorkers.

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Ikea’s Manhattan planning studio.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

This model studio apartment — complete with the not-unheard-of New York City feature of a bathtub in the living room — represents the real floor plan of a Manhattanite renter.

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Ikea’s Manhattan planning studio.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

The model showcases how different Ikea products offer space-saving solutions, like customizable shelves, wheeled trays, and accessories that can be easily assembled and disassembled to accommodate moves.

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Courtesy of Ikea

The apartment also featured a small kitchen — my second tour guide told me that Ikea had found that the average apartment kitchen has eight cabinets in New York City — and a bathroom.

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Ikea’s Manhattan planning studio.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

The tour guide also noted that Ikea approached this space with the idea that renters can’t undertake substantive remodeling projects.

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Áine Cain / Business Insider

The next model apartment was bigger, with massive windows.

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Ikea’s Manhattan planning studio.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

Ikea recreated the floor plan of a couple that lives in an apartment featuring a multi-purpose living and dining space.

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Courtesy of Ikea

My tour guide noted that this couple saves space with a sofa that doubles as a pullout bed.

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Ikea’s Manhattan planning studio.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

And the final full-fledged model was based on a pair with “maximalist” tastes, preferring to showcase their various valuables in an apartment with limited space.

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Ikea’s Manhattan planning studio.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

Creative shelving and furniture that doubled as storage containers helped this apartment avoid clutter.

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Courtesy of Ikea

I headed down the stairs to meet my final tour guide. He noted that the studio’s downstairs area provides a quiet, calm space for shoppers to consult with Ikea coworkers or plan their rooms solo.

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Ikea’s Manhattan planning studio.
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Courtesy of Ikea

It’s got a few different alcoves for shoppers who’d prefer to plan in private …

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Ikea’s Manhattan planning studio.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

… as well as plenty of computers. Shoppers can play around with Ikea’s room-planning online features, which are also available on the furniture retailer’s website.

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Ikea’s Manhattan planning studio.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

The studio was dotted with touch screens, allowing customers to look up different Ikea products.

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Ikea’s Manhattan planning studio.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

As I made my way around the studio, guided by different employees, a few themes began to emerge.

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Ikea’s Manhattan planning studio.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

The featured rooms, products, and organizational systems were tailor-made to meet several concerns common among people living in New York City.

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Ikea’s Manhattan planning studio.
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Courtesy of Ikea

Namely, a lack of space …

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Ikea’s Manhattan planning studio.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

… and a shortage of time.

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Ikea’s Manhattan planning studio.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

Green Sykes told Business Insider that the studio features solutions specific to “people who live in small spaces.”

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Ikea’s Manhattan planning studio.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

Ikea’s new planning studio addressed the issue by showcasing customizable shelving …

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Ikea’s Manhattan planning studio.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

… couches and beds that doubled as storage containers …

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Ikea’s Manhattan planning studio.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

… even pieces that provided access to stored items without having to pull out drawers in a cramped space …

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Ikea’s Manhattan planning studio.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

… a range of Ikea’s organizational systems …

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Ikea’s Manhattan planning studio.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

… and furniture laid out in a way that encouraged visitors to think critically about how to maximize their space.

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Ikea’s Manhattan planning studio.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

The furniture retailer also designed this planning center with the average “time-starved” New Yorker in mind, according to Green Sykes.

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Ikea’s Manhattan planning studio.
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Courtesy of Ikea

“Hopefully this provides more accessibility to Ikea because they can get to it easier,” she said.

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Ikea’s Manhattan planning studio.
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Áine Cain / Business Insider

“They can come in and they can shop on their own, but if they’d like some individualized attention, to plan whatever their project is, they can get that,” Green Sykes said. “They don’t have to worry about taking the product on the train or walking out with lots of bags, because we can deliver it for them.”

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Áine Cain / Business Insider

“The idea is around creating greater convenience and realistic solutions,” she said.

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Ikea’s Manhattan planning studio.
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Courtesy of Ikea